What next for the old guard of India’s Grand Old Party?
Amidst the hustle and bustle of the preparations for Rahul Gandhi’s anointment as party chief, all eyes are on three big leaders. Rahul is expected to assume charge this month. The Congress session is scheduled for next month on Indira Gandhi’s birth anniversary, and the decision on Rahul will be ratified in that meeting. The question is what will happen to Motilal Vora, Janardan Dwivedi, and Ahmed Patel, who are looking after the Congress headquarters?
Ahmed Patel is Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary and is considered the third most powerful person after Sonia and Rahul. But as soon as Rahul takes over the party reins, Patel will cease to be the political secretary of the Congress president. Then what will be his status? Will he continue to serve with Sonia or will he take a post like the general secretary in the organisation? In his long political career, he has served as the Gujarat party president, treasurer of the party, as well as his current post. Sources in the party say that if a miracle happens in Gujarat and the Congress performance improves, then it will be difficult for Rahul to ignore him. But for now, his next role hasn’t been chalked out.
In the same manner, one wonders what will be in store for the Congress treasurer, Motilal Vora. Sonia and Rahul have great confidence in him, but Rahul might appoint a new treasurer citing reasons of age and the need of the hour. So, the party might look for a new role for Vora. A Congress leader says that a change might take place either immediately or after six months. However, elections in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh are scheduled for next year, so Vora is symbolically important.
After getting relieved from the post of media incharge, Janardan Dwivedi is the general secretary in the organisation. But sources say he will be relieved of this post too. The chair of another loyal leader of the Gandhi family, Oscar Fernandes, can be offered to a youth leader. It is being said that the decision will be taken only after the Karnataka Assembly Elections.
RAHUL’S POLITICAL SECY
When Rahul becomes the Congress president, who will be his political secretary, who will be the treasurer of the party, and who will look after the organisation? The answers will not be easy. Almost half a dozen leaders are eyeing these three posts, while others are vying for the chairs of Motilal Vora, Janardan Dwivedi, and Ahmed Patel, and the lobbying has already begun.
It is being said that former Minister Milind Deora could be appointed as the party treasurer. His father, Murli Deora, used to amass funds for the party. Recently, Milind organised many programmes for Rahul in the US and tried to collect funds for the party from the NRIs. Right from that moment, discussions started that Milind could be given charge of the party coffers.
Some say either Jitendra Singh or Randeep Surjewala — who are said to be very close to Rahul — can be appointed as his political secretary when he takes charge. At present, Surjewala is looking after the party’s media cell. If he becomes Rahul’s political advisor, then Ajay Maken can again stake his claim over the media cell. However, the name of Jairam Ramesh is also doing the rounds for the post of media coordinator. As far as Jitendra Singh is concerned, he will be fighting the Lok Sabha Elections from Alwar. If he wins, his stature will be bigger in Rahul’s team and it will be easier for him to get the post of political secretary.
REBEL CRISIS in GUJARAT
The leaders who are planning to fight the Gujarat elections on the Congress tickets are becoming restless day by day. Problems of the leaders are increasing due to the parachute leaders and their supporters. They are apprehensive that they might lose their tickets. The leaders who have been fighting for years and have been defeated are more worried. They think that they can win this time, but at the same time they are apprehensive that they might not get a ticket. That is the reason why the ticket contenders are looking for other options.
The BJP has decided to give tickets to the 14 MLAs who had joined from the Congress. That is why many leaders have contacted the BJP, but the party is now not in a position to give them tickets. But they have two options. It is being said that there is huge rush at the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) office. Leaders are rushing towards Shankersinh Vaghela also. He has decided to fight on all seats under an optional front. If the NCP doesn’t find a place in the Congress front, then many rebels of the Congress will go there.
In-charge of Congress, Ashok Gehlot, and most of the leaders are trying to stop this. They are assuring the leaders that the tickets will be distributed only on the basis of ground reports. But most of the leaders want tickets on the basis that they have been fighting for years being in the Opposition. The biggest problem for the Congress is that it has to pacify the regional stalwarts. In Gujarat, the Congress has almost half a dozen kshatrapas who have a huge supporter base.
TICKET DISTRIBUTION WOES
The Congress is forming amahagathbandhan in Gujarat on the lines of Bihar. But the question is how will it distribute the 182 Assembly seats? At the same time, the BJP doesn’t have to be worried about any alliance in Gujarat. No alliance partner of the BJP is going to fight elections in Bihar and it has already decided to give tickets to 14 MLAs who joined from the Congress. However, the Congress will face a big challenge in distributing its tickets. The party has roped in three regional stalwarts; OBC leader Alpesh Thakor has already joined the Congress, whereas Hardik Patel and Jignesh Mevani are supporting the Congress from outside. These three
kshatrapas have a good supporter base and they have to manage tickets for their supporters also. It is being said that the list of Hardik Patel’s supporters is long, with more than 50 names. While he won’t contest the elections, he wants tickets for his closed ones.
Mevani, who is leading the Dalit movement, is also seeking tickets for his near and dear ones. Thakor is also said to have given a list to the Congress high command. So, the Congress will face problems in deciding the candidates of these new kshatrapas, leaving the veterans of the Gujarat Congress. Party leaders are now mulling over this problem. Not only this, the Congress leaders have to accommodate Chhotubhai Vasava and his supporters also. The AAP has added to the pressure on the Congress after declaring its candidates for 11 seats.
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